Friday, February 13, 2009

Chocolate Coated Cool Stuff, Part One

All my joking and kvetching* about Super Target aside, I really do love life here in Sydney. In a previous post, I told you about some things that I really miss from home, that aren't accessible here. Well, here's the other side of the coin. What follows are a few products, services and just cool things about life here that I never had in the States. Lest we Americans get a big head...

1. Tim Tams
Everyone loves these. I believe it's a requirement for residency or citizenship. When you visit Sydney, Tim Tams will be for sale in bulk at the duty free shop in the airport. What are they, you ask? Well I'll tell you. They are delectable, chocolate cookies, coated in creamy chocolate and with a soft chocolate center. Did I mention they're made entirely of chocolate? But it's MORE than that, ok? They are crunchy, yet soft. They are sweet but not sickening. They taste REALLY good dipped in coffee or tea. When you come visit, ask Jason to show you how to do a Tim Tam Slam--it involves a hot coffee and a Tim Tam, but is too complicated to share in this format. Here's the kids enjoying some Tim Tams last winter.

2. Local Shops
Just around the corner from our house are what we call "the shops". As in, "I'm going to the shops to get some fish for tonight. Or, "Let's go get some coffee and banana bread at the shops." Every community in Sydney has its own shopping village, and if you live in that area, it serves as one of the centers of life for that area. I love this for a few reasons. One, it's so darn convenient. I am at our shops probably once a day at least for a variety of things--groceries, last minute birthday presents, restaurants, DVD rentals--whatever. Second, it makes me feel part of a community. Every time I go up there, especially now that we've been here a few years, I see someone I know. Sometimes we stop and chat, sometimes not. Maybe this sounds silly, but it just feels nice to share life with these same people day in and out, whether I really know them or not. It feels so much more like a community to me than when I used to do my shopping at the Kroger in Dallas. And third, I find we can get better stuff and better service. You see every set of local shops has a grocery store, but also a separate butcher, fish market, newsagency, bakery, and fruit and vegetable market. Also, most have cafes, post offices, and specialty shops. It's just nice. My Aussie friends who read this will laugh at me, 'cause this is what they've always had and it doesn't seem special to them. But it is, I'm tellin' ya!

3. Council Collection
Ok. Now this is fun. A few times a year, everyone puts anything they have in their house that they don't want anymore on the curb, and at some point in the week, big trucks (sent by the town council, hence the name) come by and haul it all off. Here's the fun part. Before all those big trucks come, you get to cruise around and see if there's anything you might need to have in your home. Does that sound desperate? I DON'T CARE. It is so fun--you know there's something fascinating about what people throw away, and sometimes it's nice stuff. Or if not nice, then at least usable. Or if not usable, then at least worth considering. In past council collections, we've scavenged the following: a little desk for Nate's room, a comfy upholstered chair, a bike for Nate, a wooden cabinet with glass doors, numerous kids' toys and books, and lots of other fun stuff. My friend Claire even found a brand new mattress with the plastic still on. I KNOW! We have a collection coming up in a couple weeks (woohoo!), so I'll take some pics and post them for you. Cause I know you are so enthralled and can't wait to see them. Right? Hello? Is anyone still here?

Oh, but wait--I have more! However, I don't want you to grow despondent with too much envy all at once. So, tune in tomorrow for more Aussie stuff you wish you could have. Bye, now!

*Is that a word? What am I even talking about?


  1. Amy, I just loved the little shopping center that I visited with you !Much better than a Walmart. I can easily see how it gives a sense of community, especially now that you have been there long enough to know more people. Tim Tims= Yum Yum ! I love the Council Collection idea. Other people's junk is always more interesting. I hope to get a chance to go rummaging with you in June/July. Great posts ! Keep 'em coming !

  2. I want more of this subject.

    To kevtch is to chronically complain. It's Yiddish. You must be tapping into your racial memory from your Scots-Irish, Amerindian, Henny Youngman ancestors.

  3. I feel like every time I hear about Australia, I hear about Tim Tams. Hugh Jackman brought Tim Tams for the Oprah audience a couple of months ago. They must be fabulous!

    I enjoy hearing about the shopping village. Sounds great. To have, not only a grocery store, but a butcher and fish market around the corner from your home. That's awesome.

  4. you'll have to bring some tim tams the next time your in the states for us texans, they sound so delish! i'm a little jealous about your great shopping center. in the states we are just too busy, we need it all in one big ginormous store and it's so impersonal! i really wish we could slow it down and enjoy our grocery shopping. sounds like you guys are having a great time living in oz.

  5. I know, it's like, "Geez, Australia, enough about the Tim Tams!" I kid. And I had never heard of rooibos tea before it was mentioned on your blog the other day, and then I walked into the starbucks in my target here in little old Hotlanta and they had it. I had a coupon (yay!) and I got a vanilla rooibos latte for $1. Delicious. Then I drove Matt crazy by constantly demanding that he smell it. Good times.

    And I LOVE the idea of having "the shops." And junk day--that would be like Christmas for me!

  6. My goodness Amy! You're developing quite a following here..! Did you know you can publish your blog into your very own book..?? I KNOW! Cool, right?!
    That is so cool that your friend found a brand new!

  7. Hey Amy, I finally figured out the technology on this newfangled computer!
    I am thrilled with you new blog. How cool!!I love hearing about life in Oz. Keep it coming. Hugs to all from Denver.

  8. Dad--Henny Youngman ancestors? Are you confusing us with your family on the other side of town again? :)

    Kate--I heard about Hugh giving Tim Tams out. And I'm sorry, Beck, but they ARE delish. What can we say?

    Hi, Maggie!! Good to see you. Mwah!

  9. Hi!
    I didn't realise it was so easy to sign up to leave a comment! You know I'm a little sloooowww with this sort of stuff but getting there:)
    Loved reading all those great things about our wonderful land of Oz! (and the other stuff too!)
    Thanks for letting me know about your blog.

  10. I'll take "the shops" and Council Collection over the Tim Tams any day. Now, if those Tim Tams were fried, I might reconsider.